Guard Yourselves from Idols

S (Scripture) – 1 John 5:20-21 “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” NASB

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.  And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.  Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” NLT

O (Observation) – We have been given this most glorious truth – that Jesus came to redeem us, restore us, complete us, and bring us into a relationship with Almighty God.  No matter what our pasts look like, how insignificant we thought we were, Jesus proclaims that we are precious in God’s sight, and that He has a plan for our lives.  His strength is made perfect in weakness, and He will use us in a mighty way for His kingdom if we would only yield to Him.  What in the world could possibly be more important than what the God of the universe has for us?

A (Application) – It is easy to say with our lips that God’s kingdom is what dominates our minds, thoughts, and actions.  However, the demands of this life and passions of the flesh can ever so easily become idols that usurp the throne of our lives that rightfully belong to God.  We need to consistently and consciously take ourselves off of the throne of our lives and relinquish control to the Holy Spirit.  He is the One we should be in step with each day, taking His lead, and walking in His power.  Apart from the Holy Spirit, we are humans following after our own desires.

P (Prayer) – Almighty God, thank You for free gift of eternal life.  It may be free for us, but it cost you everything.  Jesus said that he who follows as His disciple must take up his cross daily and follow Him.  May we take ourselves off of the throne of our lives and instead have only You.  I give You control, Lord.  Lead me, teach me, guide me, protect me…all this and so much more do You promise those who trust in You.

Love One Another

S (Scripture) – 1 John 4:11-13 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

O (Observation) – Lord, You first loved us.  Even though we didn’t deserve it, You gave everything to show Your love for mankind.  Likewise, we are to receive that love from You, allow Your Spirit to change our hearts and minds, and subsequently demonstrate that inward change by our outward love for others.

A (Application) – If we are truly walking with You, we cannot help but have transformed hearts that break for what breaks Yours.  You give us eyes to see and ears to hear, as well as the desire to move Your kingdom forward by loving others well.  We cannot claim to be Christians and have hate in our hearts toward our fellow men.  We clearly will not always agree with the actions of others, however, showing disrespect and hatred toward those we disagree with is not of God.  We are told by Jesus to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 4:44).”

P (Prayer) – Father in Heaven, thank You for first loving me when I was far from You.  You pursued me with love and kindness – it is Your kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  May the love and kindness we show to others be what draws them closer to You.

The song, Hosanna, from Hillsong, comes to mind:

“Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity”

We Are Children of God

S (Scripture) – 1 John 3:1-3 “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.  For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  NASB

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us!  Just look at it – we’re called children of God!  That’s who we really are.  But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.  But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God.  And that’s only the beginning.  Who knows how we’ll end up!  What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him – and in seeing him, become like him.  All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.”  The Message

O (Observation) – What we believe about ourselves will determine what we think and do in our lives.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us that now we are children of God.  Despite what our lives used to be like apart from Him, we are now “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  If we truly believe that we are God’s children, our actions should reflect it.

A (Application) – No one is perfect, but those who are in Christ understand that He is coming back for His bride (the body of Christ) one day – we should live our lives in anticipation, and pursue holiness in our thoughts, intentions, and actions.  What are we watching, reading, sharing, laughing at, and spending our time doing?  How are we treating, serving, and loving others?

P (Prayer) – Lord Jesus, help me to be pure.  It’s so easy for me to slip back into the ways of the world and do what everyone else does, but You have called us to be holy, as You are holy (1 Peter 1:16).  If something is holy, it is set apart.  Help me to be set apart for You.  Help me to live this life with the truth that I am Yours – Your child.

Abide in Him = Confidence

S (Scripture) – 1 John 2:28 “Now little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

O (Observation) – Lord Jesus, whether the world acknowledges it or not, You have promised us that You are coming back again.  Many people don’t realize how much You talk about that day, and eternity after, in Your word.  We are right in the middle of Your story, and one day, it is just going to happen.  Your word says, “…the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2)”  Everyone will be surprised.  Some will be fearful – perhaps those that have lived their lives in direct opposition to You.  Others will be joyful – those who have abided in You, know You, and are known by You.  They will stand before You with confidence, knowing that they have fought the good fight and have stood strong until the end.  Yet others will experience this shrinking away from You on that day – those that had every intention of getting to know You more, but were too busy and wrapped up in the cares of the world.

A (Application) – Life is short.  We know this intuitively.  We have watched loved ones as they age, said goodbye to others, and over the years it seems that we are constantly learning of someone we care about passing on.  Whether it be that we die, or that Jesus returns, either way we are at risk of living our lives without abiding in Him.

We must constantly re-evaluate our priorities.  What is it that we spend our time doing?  What have we allowed to become an idol in our lives?  Where do we spend our money?  What do we long for?  What breaks our heart?  What gives us joy?  What is our quiet time with the Lord like?  Who are we discipling?  Who are we caring for and serving?  Answering these questions will allow our true priorities to surface.  Ultimately, we must be ready to meet our Lord face-to-face on any given day.  If we are not yet saved by His grace, that would be first and foremost.  For those that are professing believers, we must ask ourselves, “Are we abiding in Him?”  Would we stand confidently in His presence, excited about the new and beautiful creation He has made out of the broken pieces of our lives?  Or would we shrink back in shame, wishing we had gotten around to learning what it meant to abide in Him sooner?

P (Prayer) – Jesus, You are the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.  May we never put anything in our lives ahead of You.  Show us what it means to abide in You.  Help us each day to grow more in our faith, in our obedience, in our trust, and in our hope.

The song, “If You Say Go,” from Rita Springer comes to mind:

If You say go

We will go

If You say wait

We will wait

If You say step out on the water

And they say it can’t be done

We’ll fix our eyes on Your and we will come

Your ways

Are higher than our ways

And the plans that You have laid

Are good and true

If You call us to the fire

You will not withdraw Your hand

We’ll gaze into the flames and look for You

Authentic Fellowship

S (Scripture) – 1 John 1:5-7 “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

O (Observation) – Lord, You want nothing less than our authentic love for You and for others.  So many that claim Your name today live the vast majority of their lives apart from Your fellowship, and are in the driver’s seat of their own lives.  The result is a broken person…broken because their fellowship with both You and others isn’t genuine and mature.  These men and women walk in darkness, avoiding Your light of truth that is always shining, and ultimately end up either pulling away from the body of Christ, or withholding their authentic selves from others.

A (Application) – True growth comes as a result of God illuminating areas in our lives that need to be addressed – one-by-one, and it is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.  Maturity is intentional, and requires a person to be disciplined and focused.  The most basic element, however, is authenticity.  If we are going to grow in our Christian walk, we must be willing to open up 100% of ourselves to the Lord, and to others.

P (Prayer) – Everlasting Father, the sooner we acknowledge that You know everything about us, everything we’ve ever done, and everything we will ever do, maybe we would stop trying to be anything less than authentic with You.  May our relationships with others be an inevitable overflow of love, grace, and true fellowship that we have with You.  Show us what it means to love well, forgive always, and continuously walk in Your light.